The dean of Seattle University School of Law will step down on June 30, after three years in the job.

“Increasing family responsibilities have forced my family and me to make the difficult decision to return to Washington, D.C.,” Mark Niles wrote in a letter to students. He said he would return to the faculty at American University Washington College of Law, where he taught for 12 years before assuming the Seattle deanship in 2010.

Niles declined to discuss his departure, but told students that his years as dean “have been the most rewarding and enjoyable of my professional life.”

University president Stephen Sundborg wrote in a letter to faculty and students that Nile’s tenure was productive and that his departure was unexpected. “Under his leadership, the law school developed an innovative first-year curriculum; created an avenue to tenure for the faculty in the Legal Writing Program, which regained its number one ranking in the country; expanded its externship program to include a Summer in D.C. program; partnered with Robert’s Fund to launch a pioneering program to promote civility in the legal profession; and focused energy on alumni relations,” Sundborg wrote.

Meanwhile, Seattle law professor Annette Clark has been named one of three finalists for the deanship of the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The other candidates are Daniel Hamilton, associate dean for faculty development at the University of Illinois College of Law; and Robert Ackerman, a professor at Wayne State University Law School.

Clark served as Seattle’s interim dean prior to Niles’ appointment. She served as dean of Saint Louis University School of Law during the 2011-12 academic year but resigned unexpectedly after clashing with University President Lawrence Biodi over funding and the law school’s autonomy.

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